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Class Action Park
2020. Seth Porges, Chris Charles Scott III
Documentary about a poorly designed and dangerous water park in 1980’s New Jersey.
The movie makes heavy use of VHS artifacts. Early on, they are artificially superimposed over grainy, cheap 1970’s film, the two sorts of artifacts interfere and the machinery of nostalgia jams and thunks instead of spinning up and running smoothly.
Nostalgia for the 1980’s is mostly nonsense, because the 1980’s themselves were so completely defined by nostalgia. A man kicked off of Wall Street in the 80’s tries to recreate the dangerous summers of his childhood in the industrial, for-profit setting of a theme park. When the movie wants to make a pitch about the “Free Range Children” of the 1980’s, it uses a clip from Stand By Me, a movie about the 1960’s. Nostalgia about the 80’s will almost always be misplaced, because 80’s culture understood itself as a mostly useless motion away from the realities of the past. The end of nostalgia is infantile regression, nihilism, Reagan.
Chris Gethard (“Park Attendee”) talks a lot in this movie, and is brilliant and energetic and worth listening to. At least six people died at Action Park between 1980 and 1988. The movie is available on HBO Max.